Why a Crossover Boat May Be the Best Bet for Wakesurfing
Wakesurfing has been the biggest thing to hit the boat industry since the introduction of the deep V hull in the 1950s. The industry is always innovating, but few things have had such a profound influence on boat design, sales and overall boating culture as the popularity of wakesurfing.
The sport is an ideal entrance into boating life. People of all ages and athletic ability can get up and be surfing within a few tries. The speeds are slower. And, big bonus, falls are a lot softer at 10 mph than a 30 mph plus water ski crash. Above all, it’s just plain fun.
So what makes a good wakesurf boat?
- Ballast. It’s all about the weight, baby! Though all design factors feed into the ultimate wave quality, the overall weight and where the weight is distributed is arguably the most definitive. In the old days, we’d literally bring lead weights (like from the gym!) to add ballast. Today’s boats have internal water sacks that you can fill with the flip of a button.
- Hull Shape. Wakesurf-specific boats will have a more pronounced V hull. The shape displaces the water and creates a bigger wave. By contrast, water ski boats have flat hulls in order to plane and minimize the wake.
- Size. The result of a few extra feet of overall boat length can amplify the surfing experience exponentially. It’s not a critical buying factor. Most likely, no one would ever notice until they surf behind a longer boat on wake that’s further away. The caveat with size is that you’ll want to know size limits on your local lake, storage considerations in your garage or elsewhere, and your vehicle’s towing capacity.
- Surf System: Gates/Plates/Shapers. Wakesurf-specific boats will have built-in surf systems to shape the waves. With subtle adjustments, these can create a steeper, faster wave or a mellow, soft wave with a comfy pocket. It’s impressive how refined these systems can be. But don’t despair! Aftermarket wave shapers are perfectly effective, easily installed, and affordable for 99% of us non-pros.
Okay, What Should I Buy?
Hang in there, we have a list. But a boat is only good if it works for how you and your family want to use it.
If your on-water experience is all wakesurf, all the time, check out tournament boats from the major brands. You’ll get the latest technology, and the most adaptable wave systems.
Most people, especially with families, want a more versatile boat. You’ll want to be able to tow skiers, surfers, wakeboarders and maybe even the occasional tubers! Some days, you may just want to sunset cruise or pack up for an overnight shoreline camping trip. The good news is that with today’s boat technology, crossover or multi-discipline boats do all of this really well.
Full disclosure: Even though we and our kids enjoy a little bit of everything, we’re skiers at heart. So we opt for competition ski boats, with aftermarket accessories to adapt our small wake for surfing and boarding. It suits us our needs and it works great. Having both boated since we were kids, a lot of people ask for buying advice. This is the exact advice we share.
Benefits of Crossover Boats
- Versatility. Crossover boats are designed to provide a great experience for all disciplines. So the hull, the weight distribution and the sizes are moderated for all-around performance. Our philosophy is that you can always make wake bigger if a devoted wakesurfer is in your midst, but you can’t make it smaller for the kid who loves to ski. Like we said up top, boaters have been manipulating wakes for decades with low tech solutions. With new crossover built-ins and all the aftermarket gear available, this has become much easier.
- Space and Comfort (and Bigger Wake). Definitely test out an inboard V-drive, where the motor is in the stern. The alternate inboard option is the direct drive, where the motor is in the center of the boat. A V-drive is slightly less efficient as a mechanical system, but it opens up more space to spread out or invite more friends. Added bonus for wakesurfing: The added weight to the stern means a V-drive will boost the size of the wake over a direct drive.
- Reliability. Today’s crossover boats are well-built, high quality, and user-friendly. You’ll find all the extras for a plush ride, without the finicky and costly needs of the competition, performance engines. The top crossovers have enough features and performance to keep recreationalists entertained and challenged over many years as skills improve.
- Value and Longevity. The best crossover boats aren’t cheap, but they hold value well and are built to last. If your passion for wakesurfing grows and you want a tournament-style boat, reselling a well-maintained crossover boat should be easy and lucrative.
- Obviously, the first thing to do is toss the old school fenders and outfit your new baby with some sweet IMPACT Boat Fenders.
- Buy the tower. It’ll help keep your toys organized and your boat uncluttered. Also, it frees up a lot of space for moving around.
- Bimini up. The good news about being on the water is that there’s always enough sun. Shade, on the other hand, is at a premium. Get a bimini from the start.
Check These Out: Our Choices for Best Crossover Boats for Wakesurfing (and Everything Else)
In no particular order, here are our choices for the best crossover or multi-discipline boats.
- Malibu 20 VTX: It has the soul of a performance water ski boat, with built-in ballast control and a readily deployed wave system. Bomber – all the way around.
- Tige RZR: This is an older model that still delivers. With low hours and good maintenance records, this would be an exceptional choice if you can find one used.
- Nautique GS20: It has the performance you’d expect, with luxury you may not. Nautique went to the mat for comfort, storage and refined useability on this one.
- Supreme S202: Supreme is renowned for its innovative construction. The S202 was the first boat to be made entirely with a vacuum infusion process that results in a stronger boat and a peerless finish.
When it comes to boat design, we’re just fellow enthusiasts with a collected 60+ years (yikes!!) of boating experience! We love to talk boats! Even so, our expertise is in boat protection, because our passion is on the water.
Brian and Courtney